When looking for the best camera strap, as with any product, the price can vary widely. The price tag can be affected by the material used, the level of functionality and the brand name, if any. That said, most brand-name cameras package a branded strap with their DSLRs, which are of a high-quality build, so purchasing one is not always a requirement.
For those who are only into photography as a casual hobby, most won't even give a second thought as to the strap holding the camera around their neck and will opt to continue using the free one provided to them.
See Also: Best Camera Backpacks 2018
Our Pick: Best Camera Strap for Hiking
ONA – The Presidio Camera Strap – Antique Cognac Leather
The Presidio fits into the category of antique or decorative, fashion statement camera straps, creating an image that will help any photographer become a part of their surroundings. Crafted by hand from premium waxed canvas and leather, it is understandably one of the more expensive straps that can be picked up, colored a distinctive oak brown and with chrome accents to accentuate the fastenings. Though the strap can be worn around the neck, the most comfortable fit is marketed as being cross-body, or over the shoulder.
The price can be forgiven, since the neckline is padded with Neoprene. Not only does this material coating help the strap to maintain its shape under temperature fluctuations—a great feature for the great outdoors—but it also has better water-resistant properties than many other materials. This is the reason why neoprene is typically used in wetsuits for scuba diving.
In terms of raw specifications, the strap is designed to support DSLR cameras and lens attachments weighing anywhere up to 6 lbs. in total. When it comes to variance in the strap's length, it can be adjusted from 19.5” to 23.5”.
The Presidio Camera Strap is the epitome of quality when it comes to camera straps, with handcrafted, treated leather and coated neoprene justifying the slightly higher price tag. The combination of materials results in a product that not only looks stunning, but also has hidden qualities, resisting temperature change, moisture and stretching.
The scope for adjustment of the strap’s length is there, but the functionality is more limiting than it would be in a less fashionable strap. However, for hikers who care about comfort and maintaining the quality of the strap under harsh conditions and a little punishment, the Presidio Strap is an excellent choice.
Matin Neoprene Fast Access Sling
The Matin camera strap is another strap that favors neoprene padding to retain its shape and comfort under tough conditions and over long periods of use. However, where it differs to the Presidio camera strap is that it is worn diagonally over the shoulder as opposed to around the neck. This reduces the strain placed on the neck by traditional neck straps, while a padded chest strap prevents the weight of the camera from exerting too much pressure onto the sternum and ribs.
The positioning of the camera when worn in conjunction with this strap means that shooting is extremely efficient, with a detachable 120° rotating quick release buckle for quick access to the DSLR. In addition, a built-in holder prevents the camera from slipping when worn behind the body, so this makes it well suited to activities such as hiking.
In terms of technical specifications, the length of the Matin Neoprene strap ranges from approximately 47” through to 63” adjustable, which is a generous spec for such a strap. The pad size sits at a comfortable 15” in length, covering a large portion of the body of the strap, while being 2.5” in width. The quick-release buckle boasts support for up to 40 kg, which is more than enough for any DSLR camera, lenses included.
Wearing a sling strap is ideal for those photographers who like their camera out of the way until the ideal moment strikes to snap an image, at which point the quick release buckles ensure that the attached camera is close at hand. The only downside that hikers may find in this type of camera strap is that it could easily get in the way of a backpack full of camping equipment, tents, or sleeping bags.
A useful addition would be the ability to adjust the strap to a position in which it could be worn around the neck, but unfortunately the design does not allow for this. However, there are other tailored straps available for such a purpose, and this sling strap is among the best in its class.
Peak Design Slide Camera Strap
Where the Peak Design Camera Strap comes out on top is in its ability to fulfil a variety of functions. This strap can be used as a neck strap, or converted into a shoulder or sling strap using the rapid adjustment handles that quickly vary its length.
It features 45mm seatbelt-style wedding, with internal padding that ensures the strap won't cut or chafe into exposed skin when scaling rough terrain in humid conditions. One side is an aesthetically pleasing smooth design, while the other is gripped to ensure that the camera won't slip and slide around whilst hiking up hills and across rivers.
The strap is compatible with any camera on the market, including heavier full frame DSLR units with large profile lenses; however, it is equally as suited to small mirrorless cameras. Using the included ARCA-compatible tripod plate, it can connect to a camera's tripod socket, or to any of the strap loops present on most modern cameras.
As a sling strap, the connect slide feature uses anchor links on the strap lug or tripod socket, creating a quick sling strap that retains fluid motion over all types of clothing, so that your camera is free to move when you are maneuvering over mountains.
Alternatively, the attach slide function connects to both strap lugs to create a shorter neck strap when the camera needs to be kept close to hand for shooting or for its own protection. Lastly, simply flipping the strap over reveals a silicone-gripped design that will hold traction on clothing when worn as a shoulder strap, for those more casual moments over flat terrain.
When it comes to hiking, the Peak Design Camera Strap certainly has its benefits. With the unpredictable nature of terrain in the great outdoors, possessing a camera strap that can function in a variety of ways is very useful.
The ability to switch the camera between the chest, back and shoulders means that the wearer can quickly switch the positioning of the DSLR to suit their path. The quick adjustment handles are a welcome addition as they can soon be adjusted to prevent the camera from hitting obstacles when the path becomes more treacherous.
Many different types of camera strap are available on the market, but not all are best-suited for hiking in the great outdoors. There are many considerations to make, including whether the way in which the strap is worn will clash with other equipment, whether environmental factors could damage the strap, and whether the level of padding and support offered will be sufficient to maintain comfort during long shoots and even longer walks.
Though it may not seem important to make such a careful assessment of the planned hike prior to choosing a camera strap, it is an essential task to ensure that the right product is purchased.
Commonly used camera straps
This can easily be a mistake, given that strong branding can turn you into a beacon for would-be thieves. As a photographer, the goal is also to blend into the surroundings and capture shots unobtrusively, so something low-key and casual is the best mark to aim for. Thankfully, when hiking, this is less of an issue than it would be in a large city, but it is still worth keeping in mind.
When factoring in certain sports or hobbies such as hiking, there are even more considerations to make, such as whether the material will stand up to the elements, whether it is comfortable to wear for long periods of time, and even whether the material is going to feel stiff, or rub and chafe after extended use.
It’s important to buy a strap that caters to your needs and the intended use of the camera to which it is attached, otherwise a sightseeing hiking trip can quickly turn into an uncomfortable affair in which the enjoyment of photography is lost.
There are many different specifications to consider when buying a camera strap, such as materials used in the design, the length, and the inclusion of any pouches or other niche accessories. Although all of these potential combinations exist, most camera straps still fall into one of several categories, as we’ve set out below. Some of these straps are better for certain activities than others and as such, some are better suited for hiking, such as neck, sling and shoulder straps.
Packaged kit camera straps
These straps are called many things, but essentially, they are the straps that come packaged with a new camera. When buying a top-name brand, the brand name will typically be printed in bold font across the material, which can be a welcome attraction for thieves, as mentioned above. What’s more, the material is typically synthetic and not the most comfortable to wear for extended periods. As a result, this is perhaps not the best choice for those hiking for long periods.
Fashion statement or antique camera straps
Some camera straps favor form over functionality, designing themselves out of original print materials, treated leather, or other antique or artistic fabrics. Though quite basic in concept, owing to the nature of the design, they’re typically not only comfortable, but also great at helping the photographer blend into a crowd while shooting. On long hiking trips where comfort is desirable, a good leather strap can be the perfect choice, especially if that leather is treated to be weather resistant.
Shoulder sling camera straps
The benefit of a shoulder strap is that it can ease the pressure of a heavy DSLR on your neck, reducing the chance of neck strain or chafing from a strap. That being said, the wearer must be mindful to switch the strap between shoulders every now and then to keep the load balanced. These are not the most ideal straps for hiking, given that the average hiker will already be carrying a heavy hiking backpack over the shoulders.
Hand-worn camera straps
Hand-worn camera straps are very small and suited to wearing around the back of the hand. Though this can completely avoid the issue of neck or shoulder strain, it also reduces the freedom of being able to do anything else with your hands during a shoot. Thus, they’re not ideal for hiking; one slip or fall, and the camera is at risk of breakage.
Wrist-worn camera straps
These camera straps are like hand-worn straps, with the exception that the camera is free to hang from the wrist when not in use. Though this type of strap frees up the photographer’s hands for other actions or equipment, it does place the camera at risk of damage due to knocking into other objects. It can also be easy to forget that the camera is anchored and sudden hand movements could also result in accidents.
Double camera strap
These straps cross over the torso and provide extra support; this is because they are typically designed to hold two cameras for when more than one setup may be required (think wedding photography). They are similar in design to camera harnesses, with slightly less material and padding than the latter type of equipment, and generally no accessory storage space either.
This is the only product on the list that is, in fact, not a camera strap. The holster does exactly as the name would suggest, sitting around the waist like a weapons holster. This solves the problem of neck strain, frees up the photographer’s hands for other activities, and keeps it securely fastened in one place, without being out of reach.
What to consider when hiking
Hiking is an unpredictable sport, and photography while hiking demands a lot more from you and your equipment than a simple shoot at home or in the workplace. Exposed to the elements and much harsher conditions in general, the equipment carried needs to be able to protect the DSLR that it is attached to, save for leaving you footing a large repair or replacement bill.
One of the most important factors is the changeable weather to which your DSLR and other camera equipment may well be exposed. A good camera strap with neoprene or a similar coating can help to repel moisture created from dew, sweating around the neck, and other sources. However, it’s worth noting that the camera itself needs to be protected, and so a water-resistant or waterproof camera bag would also be useful.
Prior to setting off on a hiking trip, consideration must also be given to the type of strap that is required for the intended terrain. In large, open spaces such as fields or mountains, the length of the camera strap being used may not be so much of a concern.
However, when hiking over constant obstacles or through thick trees and shrubbery, the camera should be kept closer to avoid potential damage from knocking into objects. Thus, an adjustable camera strap should be used. Before your journey, also consider what luggage is being taken and how this could impact on the type of camera strap used. A traditional backpack, for example, would quickly get in the way of a shoulder-worn sling strap.